This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
An eleventh-hour bill gave a fright to Salt Lake City leaders Wednesday, even as its sponsor says it's unlikely to get off the ground.
Sen. Jerry Stevenson's SB278 would create an entity to "facilitate" development on more than 3,500 acres of Salt Lake City land next to the site of the new Utah State Prison.
Of 12 seats at that entity's table, just two would be selected by the city one area resident and one area business owner.
Rep. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, said she "went into panic mode" when Stevenson's bill went public Tuesday afternoon.
"It's a very serious proposal," Escamilla said. "It would change a lot of the dynamic in a portion of Salt Lake City."
Stevenson, R-Layton, said Wednesday that he had a phone conversation with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski on Tuesday night, acknowledging that his bill is "kind of an eyebrow-raiser" and that "she was a little bit surprised."
"To tell you the truth, I don't think it's going to go anywhere," he said. "We would like to have a continued wonderful relationship with the city. This wasn't meant to be a shot across the bow."
He meant to pose the idea, he said, of bringing the area's stakeholders together to maximize its potential.
The so-called "inland port" entity would also include state, county and business representatives and would "facilitate the planning, permitting, financing, construction, operation, or maintenance of infrastructure or other development," the bill reads.
Lynn Pace, Salt Lake City's senior legislative adviser, addressed the bill's release during his regular briefing to the City Council on Tuesday evening.
Said Pace: "I don't know anything more about the bill than what's in it, so we intend to ask a lot of questions over the next few days, to find out what's behind that bill and what the intentions are with a bill that comes out that late."
Councilman James Rogers, whose district includes that area, said the city has already engaged other stakeholders and had broad support for its Northwest Quadrant Master Plan.
Stevenson's bill was "really disheartening and frustrating," Rogers said. "I don't know of any partnerships that are created on threats to begin with."
Salt Lake City spokesman Matthew Rojas said on behalf of the mayor's office "we obviously don't support the bill as it's currently written" and that the city has an aggressive plan to complete needed infrastructure two years before the prison is completed.
Escamilla noted that Stevenson's entity wouldn't include a single representative of Biskupski's administration or the council.
It would be "very irresponsible," she said, if leadership were to push the bill forward in the final 48 hours.